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Azerbaijan: Growing Number of Citizens Heading Abroad for Medical Care

New equipment at a government hospital in Baku (June 2015). According to a top official at Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Health, government allocations for healthcare have increased 11 times since 1990s, but just about everyone in Azerbaijan has heard scary tales about the country’s healthcare system, and an increasing number of citizens prefer to travel abroad for treatment. (Photo: Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Health)

Just about everyone in Azerbaijan has heard scary tales about the country’s healthcare system.
 
One recent case involved Tarlan Mammadova, an 87-year-old sufferer from diabetes, who had to have her left leg amputated because of the disease, only to have the doctor take the wrong leg during the operation earlier this summer. Mammadova died from complications from the botched procedure on July 31. Then there is four-year-old Arzu Gurbanli, who went in to a clinic for a tonsillectomy, only to die the day after from complications.
 
Such horror stories are helping to prompt lots of Azerbaijanis to travel abroad when they need to undergo all sorts of surgery. Precise numbers are hard to come by, but healthcare professionals cannot help but notice the trend.
 
“The tendency to go abroad for the treatment has increased since Azerbaijan’s independence from the Soviet Union,” said Adil Geybulla, a surgeon and professor at Azerbaijani Medical University. “The main reason is mistrust of the national health system.”
 

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Durna Safarova is a freelance journalist who covers Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan: Growing Number of Citizens Heading Abroad for Medical Care

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